Posts Tagged ‘Norfolk Southern’

PRR Memories on a Sunny Afternoon in Wooster

April 30, 2014
NS westbound freight is stopped at MP 135.2 in Wooster waiting for clearance to head west on the former PRR Fort Wayne mainline.

NS westbound freight is stopped at MP 135.2 in Wooster waiting for clearance to head west on the former PRR Fort Wayne mainline.

The mainline of the mighty Pennsylvania Railroad ran through the Wayne County cities of Orrville and Wooster.

It was a vibrant railroad right up to and after the Penn Central merger. Through service from Pittsburgh to Chicago was frequent and there were passenger trains.

All that changed with Amtrak, Conrail and, later, Norfolk Southern. The former PRR Fort Wayne line is today operated by NS from Alliance to Bucyrus.

The route from Crestline to Bucyrus is via trackage rights.

One thing before modern mergers that made railroads distinctive was their signals and signaling system. The PRR used a display of position light signals.

Rows of white lights in vertical (proceed) and horizontal (stop) positions provided track information to the train, as set up by the dispatcher.

Most of mainlines have the modern Safe Tran signals installed today. However, the former PRR position light signals are still used on the NS lines in Wayne County.

At the eastern edge of Wooster is a signal bridge spanning three tracks. Signal bridges, once popular, only exist today over multiple track mainlines.

On Thursday afternoon, April 24, I set out to enjoy the sunny afternoon and, perhaps, see a few trains. I parked in a lot on Palmer Street, adjacent to the NS mainline through Wooster.

The signal bridge which crosses over the three-track mainline is clearly visible from the Palmer Street overpass. It looks the same as when PRR trains passed under it.

The timetable location is MP 135.2, Wooster on the NS Fort Wayne Line of the Pittsburgh division.

A westbound NS freight was stopped at the signal bridge on Track 2 waiting for clearance to move onto the single track mainline at CP Big Run, MP136.0, at the west side of Wooster.

The NS former PRR Fort Wayne line is single tracked to CP Mohican, MP157.4, west of Loudonville.

At 4:55 p.m. the signals came on, indicating a clear for Track 1. Soon an eastbound freight came into view and passed the westbound.

After the eastbound cleared, the westbound received clearance to head west. Both trains had many locomotives.

I had not only photographed a westbound train at the signal bridge, but got a train meet to boot.

I then proceeded to meet the girls for supper at Wendy’s. After supper, while sitting trackside near the Pittsburgh Avenue crossing in downtown Wooster, a westbound coal train passed by at 6:35 p.m. It ended my railroad outing for the day.

It was a nice getaway on a sunny afternoon along the former Pennsy. The railroad had changed drastically over the years, but the memories were still visible.

Article and Photographs by Richard Jacobs

NS westbound freight is stopped at MP 135.2 in Wooster waiting for clearance to head west on the former PRR Fort Wayne mainline.

NS westbound freight is stopped at MP 135.2 in Wooster waiting for clearance to head west on the former PRR Fort Wayne mainline.

NS eastbound freight meets a westbound stopped at MP 135.2 as  viewed from the Palmer Street overpass in Wooster.

NS eastbound freight meets a westbound stopped at MP 135.2 as viewed from the Palmer Street overpass in Wooster.

Eastbound NS train passes the westbound train waiting at MP 135.2 in Wooster.

Eastbound NS train passes the westbound train waiting at MP 135.2 in Wooster.

The NS westbound freight got the signal to proceed from MP 135.2 in Wooster.

The NS westbound freight got the signal to proceed from MP 135.2 in Wooster.

The NS freight heads west on Track 2.

The NS freight heads west on Track 2.

NS westbound coal train crosses Pittsburgh Avenue in downtown Wooster.

NS westbound coal train crosses Pittsburgh Avenue in downtown Wooster.

 

I Finally Hit One Out of the Park

April 27, 2014
This was the appetizer for the main course that I was served on Saturday afternoon. Keep reading and looking.

This was the appetizer for the main course that I was served on Saturday afternoon. Keep reading and looking.

When baseball players are mired in a deep batting slump, they must keep focused.

They take extra batting practice and field extra balls. But what do veteran railfan photographers do? They keep going trackside, keep pressing the shutter release button and hope that they get a break.

Of course, it doesn’t help to be sitting on the bench and seeing the “stars” of such sites as Railpictures.net and Trainorders.com hit pitch after pitch out of the park when you can’t make it to first base.

And so it has been for me this year. I’ve been thrown a lot of curve balls that I swung at and missed.

First, there was the Saturday back in early January after one of the East’s many snow and ice storms. Amtrak No. 49 was running about eight hours late with Phase III livery No. 822 on the lead.

I wasn’t working that day and there was brilliant sunshine.  I was set up with good lighting just west of the Grand River in Painesville.

The pitch came sailing toward the plate. It was an eastbound CSX freight with an attractive lash-up. I worked it for a base on balls.

But no sooner had I gotten to first, No. 49 came rushing past on the other track and I missed the shot.

I had gotten picked off and went back to the dugout without having scored.

In March, we were on our way from back from Disney World about the Silver Meteor. To our surprise the Meteor came into the Orlando station with P42 No. 145, the Phase III heritage unit, as the second unit.

Alas, we were loaded down with luggage and my camera was packed away. The best shot I was able to get was from on board the train from our Viewliner sleeper room.

I would get another turn at the plate when we stopped in Jacksonville. But Amtrak threw me a high, hard one.

No. 145 was obstructed by the platform canopy. I call this getting on base by an error then getting stranded.

A few weeks ago, Jeff Troutman and I were all set to get the Norfolk & Western heritage unit at Bedford on a westbound.

As I stood in the batter’s box, an eastbound intermodal came creeping past. And I do mean creeping.

I could see the tail end of the intermodal coming, but I also could hear the approaching westbound.

The best I could do was to “see” the NS 8103 between the trailers of the eastbound. Finally, the eastbound cleared and I got a going away shot of the N&W unit.

I would score this getting to second base and then getting hit by a batted ball in fair territory. I trudged back to the dugout.

On Saturday morning, I got a phone call from Craig Sanders. Think my luck has been bad? He hasn’t photographed an NS heritage unit on the lead since last October. Talk about a slump.

With his encouragement in the form of letting me know that the Southern Railway heritage unit was leading the 22K eastward, I kept watching Heritageunits.com and Trainorders.com.

The 22K takes the former Nickel Plate Road to Buffalo and my house is just a few minutes away. It was my weekend off, the skies were blue and things seemed to be setting up in my favor. Over in Cleveland guys were hitting the ball out of the park like the wind was blowing out at Wrigley Field.

I camped out by the single track NKP for two hours. No way was I going to miss this one. The guy in the batting order ahead of me got on base when the 206 came past with a BNSF unit leading.

It was my turn to step into the box. And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go. And now the air is shattered by the force of Edward’s blow.

Casey might have struck out, but it felt good to finally be circling those bases after hitting one out of the park. It’s been a long time and I had almost forgotten what it feels like to score.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Who would have thought getting a pumpkin and a war bonnet would be considered a disappointment?

Who would have thought getting a pumpkin and a war bonnet would be considered a disappointment?

Somewhere on the other side was the locomotive that I *really* wanted to get.

Somewhere on the other side was the locomotive that I *really* wanted to get.

The best that I was able to do was only so-so.

The best that I was able to do was only so-so.

 

Not much to work with here.

Not much to work with here.

 

It's better than nothing, I guess.

It’s better than nothing, I guess.

Just when I thought I was going to get a pitch that I could drive, I see this eastbound coming.

Just when I thought I was going to get a pitch that I could drive, I see this eastbound coming.

Somewhere between those trailers is the N&W heritage locomotive. You'll need to look carefully.

Somewhere between those trailers is the N&W heritage locomotive. You’ll need to look carefully.

It is almost in clear sight.

It is almost in clear sight.

The best I was able to do in this at bat. At least it wasn't trailing. Then it would truly be failure.

The best I was able to do in this at bat. At least it wasn’t trailing. Then it would truly be failure.

It might be. It could be.

It might be. It could be.

It is! A  home run!

It is! A home run!

Chasin’ the 630 through the Hills and Hollows

April 15, 2014

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I tagged along with the Taksar clan (Dennis, Kevin and Dennis Sr) last weekend to chase the No. 630 between Grundy Va., and Devon W. Va., in the heart of Appalachia.

It was not a long route, maybe 30 miles one way, but it was very photogenic.

The train had 17 cars and two fresh SD40s for help.  Of course the terrain is either up, down, around or through, so a couple of tunnels and many bridges are easy to access for the perfect shot.

The first two shots are at Ought One mile post zero at the east portal of the Devon Tunnel.  Not far from there the road becomes one lane and you can literally reach out and touch your passion.  There’s a waterfall for the crew to quench themselves while passing.

As I said, up or down.  I offer a shot of the 630 flying over the foamers. Then a shot of a family at play our style.

You can’t shoot in coal country with a train passing through a tipple and conveyor site.  Of course, a chase can’t be complete without getting that dramatic shot.

Even without steam photography in eastern coal country is worth the long drive.

On an added note, the last shot is of an NS signal maintainer hiding in his box as the 630 departs Weller Yard east for Grundy.

The NS presence was everywhere and not in a menacing way. Just friendly reminders to fans

and locals about safety and occasionally passing out calendars and a souvenir coil to folks on the wayside.

Article and Photographs by Alex Bruchac

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Salute to the ‘Admiral’

April 11, 2014

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I had a chance to check out one of the newer SD40-2 rebuilds the other day, Norfolk Southern No. 3285. It was delivered as Southern 3285 in 1978 and delivered with a high short hood, which was common Southern practice back then. During the rebuild, it lost its high short hood and received a new Admiral cab as well as air conditioning and an updated push button handbrake. The Admiral cabs have a distinctive higher number board, a squared-off short hood, and a slanted middle window set.

Article and Photograph by Roger Durfee

Two views of the new nose that show that it is more square, lacking the rounded corners and edges of the older EMD hoods.

Two views of the new nose that show that it is more square, lacking the rounded corners and edges of the older EMD hoods.

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Two interior views showing the slanted middle windows. The top tilts forward.

Two interior views showing the slanted middle windows. The top tilts forward.

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Mudslide Closed NS Mon Line in Pittsburgh

April 11, 2014

A mudslide described as the size of a football field briefly closed the Norfolk Southern Mon Line in Pittsburgh this week.

The mudslide occurred near West Carson Street and halted rail traffic on Tuesday morning. Trains had resumed operating through the affected area by this afternoon.

The obstruction of the tracks was reported at about 4 a.m. Media reports indicated that the slide was 10 feet deep and 30 feet long. The nearby Duquesne Incline was closed as a precaution.

Wednesday Afternoon With a ‘Peddler’ in Wooster

April 2, 2014
NS Wooster local C03 is ready to shove boxcar loads up the branch line to Gerstenslager's metal working plant in Wooster.

NS Wooster local C03 is ready to shove boxcar loads up the branch line to Gerstenslager’s metal working plant in Wooster.

Local freights are “peddlers” that serve various industries along the line. Much of that service has been taken over by shortline railroads, but Norfolk Southern still operates two locals in Wayne County.

NS local C03 serves industries in Wooster, while C27 serves industries in Orrville. Both locals originate in Mansfield at the NS yard on the southeast side of town. They travel the former Pennsylvania Railroad “Fort Wayne Line” from Mansfield to Wayne County, which is also home to several through NS freights.

On Wednesday, March 26, I chased the NS C03 local to the Gerstenslager plant in Wooster. The plant manufactures different metal items for the transportation industry.

The plant dates from 1860 and moved to Wooster from Marshallville in 1907. It was moved to its present location in 1930. In 1997, Gerstenslager was acquired by Worthington Industries. Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio,

The branch line leaves the Wooster secondary in downtown and snakes upgrade to the plant. Two street crossings at grade are on the route.

Once C03 crosses Bowman Street it enters the large plant area. The plant actually is several different plants, each with rail sidings and truck trailer loading docks. Each plant provides a different product.

Most of the railroad cars needed are boxcars, including the high cube ones. Typical NS power is a pair of GP38s.

I spent an hour in the plant parking areas watching and photographing the switching activity. Three boxcars were delivered and several gathered from the various sidings. I was a bit disappointed that the hi-cube cars at the plant along Akron Road were not switched. I did take a photo of them, however.

I left at 4:30 to head to Sterling for the Wednesday Loop Railfans outing in the County Line Trail parking lot. The hour spent at Gerstenslager’s in Wooster was a rewarding experience. I always enjoy the branch line railroad scene as well as the busy mainlines.

Article and Photographs by Richard Jacobs

NS GP38s 5629 and 5631 enter the Gerstenslager plant with several boxcar loads.

NS GP38s 5629 and 5631 enter the Gerstenslager plant with several boxcar loads.

High cube box cars for automotive parts are at the loading dock next to Akron Road.

High cube box cars for automotive parts are at the loading dock next to Akron Road.

NS GP38s push a string of boxcars toward one of Gerstenslager's manufacturing plants.

NS GP38s push a string of boxcars toward one of Gerstenslager’s manufacturing plants.

NS C03 local leaving the Gerstenslager plant heading back to downtown Wooster and the NS Fort Wayne line to Mansfield.

NS C03 local leaving the Gerstenslager plant heading back to downtown Wooster and the NS Fort Wayne line to Mansfield.

Shall We Photograph it or Scan it?

April 1, 2014

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Along with the heritage units, the Veterans tribute locomotive and the Gorail unit that many fans like to follow comes the Norfolk Southern “bar code” unit.

Brand new SD70ACe number 1111 is out and running now with the numbers applied on the cab side using a close spacing.

The result resembles a bar code, hence the moniker for it. A friend called last Saturday and said it was coming west on a 65R but trailing and wanted to know if I wanted to tag along for some photos.

The weather was, well, horrid, but at least I got a cab detail photo showing the “1111.” As luck would have it an M4K with new 1116 and 1115 passed the 65R at E26th Street in Cleveland during a snow shower. It was the first run for those two.

Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee

Long Train on a Short Line Railroad

March 28, 2014
NS train 66W passes the WAS home signals on the Cleveland Line at Alliance.

NS train 66W passes the WAS home signals on the Cleveland Line at Alliance.

You don’t usually associate “unit train” with shortline Ohi-Rail in Minerva, Ohio, but that’s not the case anymore.

On Saturday, March 22, an 80-car unit train of frac sand was handed off to them by Norfolk Southern via the Bayard interchange.

The train had arrived in Cleveland with Union Pacific power. A helper set was added to the front for cab signals at Rockport.

Once at Bayard the helper set was cut away, the Ohi-Rail crew boarded the UP power, and it was off to Minerva.

It made quite a sight with two big UP six motors and 80 cars of sand rolling, albeit slowly, down this ex-Pennsylvania Railroad and ex-New York Central track through Minerva.

The unloading facility is at the east end of Minerva yard. The train started unloading as soon as it arrived. If this test train works out there will be more, so keep your eyes and ears open for more moves like this one.

Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee

It's an uphill climb from Alliance to near Homeworth. The sound of the EMD's (the UP GE was offline) was sweet.

It’s an uphill climb from Alliance to near Homeworth. The sound of the EMD’s (the UP GE was offline) was sweet.

The 66W passes the high car detector, an old schoolhouse, and a barking dog at DCS station Moult.

The 66W passes the high car detector, an old schoolhouse, and a barking dog at DCS station Moult.

The NS power has cut away and ran ahead to clear the switch- note it in the distance- as the Ohi-Rail crew starts down its railroad using the UP power.

The NS power has cut away and ran ahead to clear the switch- note it in the distance- as the Ohi-Rail crew starts down its railroad using the UP power.

Passing through Minerva; note the blue sign.

Passing through Minerva; note the blue sign.

Some sand dust flies as the train starts to unload at Minerva.

Some sand dust flies as the train starts to unload at Minerva.

What Was Beneath that Blue Tarp?

March 22, 2014
I can only speculate as to what type of locomotive was beneath that blue covering on this eastbound Norfolk Southern manifest freight. It is shown in Berea on Friday afternoon.

I can only speculate as to what type of locomotive was beneath that blue covering on this eastbound Norfolk Southern manifest freight. It is shown in Berea on Friday afternoon.

It has been a while since I have been able to get trackside. I was able to sneak away for a couple of hours on Friday afternoon and get out to Berea.

I was hoping to catch that westbound intermodal train on CSX that is a Canadian Pacific train and runs with CP power. No such luck. I spotted it on my way home while zooming along on Interstate 480. During my stay at BE, though, I was able to catch a flat car on a Norfolk Southern train carrying what appeared to be a locomotive covered with a blue tarp that was stretched tight.

I don’t recall the train symbol, but it left much of its train opposite of Cleveland Hopkins International Airport adjacent to the Berea Freeway as it worked in nearby Rockport Yard. On my way home I spotted sitting in Rockport Yard a pair of doubled-ended locomotives painted yellow and orange sitting on flatcars.

Presumably these were built by GE Erie for export although I was unable to get a good look at them to read the identifying marks. Another out of the ordinary visitor to Berea was the NS 053, a high and wide train. The Cleveland Terminal dispatcher had been giving this train a lineup of every train it would meet as it passed through Cleveland.

I figured that it would be a short consist with one piece of heavy equipment that I wouldn’t recognize. Instead, it was a load of earth moving equipment built by Caterpillar Inc.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

"Thou shall not shoot into the sunlight." You learn that in Photography 101. But rules are made to be broken, especially when it is the only way to get a photo.

“Thou shall not shoot into the sunlight.” You learn that in Photography 101. But rules are made to be broken, especially when it is the only way to get a photo.

A closer view of the cargo being carried by NS train 053.

A closer view of the cargo being carried by NS train 053.

Nice Day to Take a Hike

March 20, 2014
An eastbound Norfolk Southern stack train is about to pass beneath Ravenna Road. The second unit was the only foreign power that I would see on this outing.

An eastbound Norfolk Southern stack train is about to pass beneath Ravenna Road. The second unit was the only foreign power that I would see on this outing.

Last Friday was a sunny day in Northeast Ohio and it was the last weekday of my spring break. The ground was still mostly snow-covered after a snowstorm swept had swept through the region on Wednesday.

But I knew that the snow would not last for long as the high temperature on Friday was forecast to reach the lower 50s. Warmer air and solar power would make quick work of the snow.

I know that most people in a region that is accustomed to snow and cold are really really tired of winter and want spring to come.

But as a proud graduate of the RAD School of Winter Photography I remember one his earliest lessons: There is no such thing as too much snow.

My primary objective was to capture the Akron Barberton Cluster Railway train headed for Ravenna. The ABC provides freight service between Kent and Ravenna on the former Erie Railroad mainline to Chicago.

That ABC job doesn’t operate on weekends and it doesn’t go to Ravenna every day, either.

Snow and ice covered the rails at the Ravenna Road crossing. The ABC had not been past here for a while.

“I’m in luck,” I thought. Or maybe not. I never saw the ABC train on this day.

Cue the voice of Major League Baseball umpire Jim Joyce: Strrrrrriiiiiiiiiiikkkkkkkeeeeeeee!

As I crossed the Ravenna Road bridge over the Cleveland Line of Norfolk Southern, I spotted the headlight of an eastbound stack train.

There was good sunlight down the rails and I shot the train through the fence with my zoom lens. Score that a single to left.

Interestingly, the engineer of the stack train dimmed the headlight just before I began shooting. Did he do that for me or was another train approaching?

I waited for several minutes before a westbound tanker train showed up. There were no NS heritage units in the motive power consist on the head end. But maybe there would be a heritage unit DPU.

I’ll let Tom Hamilton, the radio voice of the Cleveland Indians, make the call: A-h-h-h-  SWWWWIIINNNNGGG and a misssss.

I spent the rest of the morning hiking on the Portage Hike and Bike trail. It runs parallel to the ex-Erie, crosses over the CSX New Castle Subdivision on a former Erie plate girder bridge and runs parallel to CSX (ex-Baltimore & Ohio) for a short distance.

My luck might be better catching CSX trains. A couple of guys who live near Akron had been posting of late a number of photographs on Trains Orders.com of CSX trains on the New Castle Sub with foreign power of various kinds.

Before setting out on my walk, I reached into my camera bag for my scanner. It wasn’t there. I had taken it out on Thursday before photographing some non-railroad related subject matter and forgotten to put it back in.

Here’s Jim Joyce again: Strrrrrriiiiiiiiiiikkkkkkkeeeeeeee!

I arrived at the brideg over CSX and waited about 15 minutes before I thought I heard a faint sound of a locomotive horn. Then I heard it again, only louder. It must be blowing for Summit Street in Kent.

The intermediate signals that the crews call “Davey Tree” came to life and Track No. 2 displayed a clear indication for an eastbound.

Around the bend came the Q015, but with no foreign power. Strrrrrriiiiiiiiiiikkkkkkkeeeeeeee!

Fortunately, railfanning is not baseball and three strikes doesn’t mean you’re out.

Having achieved my objective of getting an eastbound CSX train from the bridge, I decided to go photograph the remains of the Erie water tank that sits back in the trees. I easily found it, but the sun angle was all wrong. It will have to wait for another day.

I hung around the stretch of the trail that is adjacent to the CSX tracks. Without my radio I would have to depend on hearing trains approaching. It wasn’t ideal, but it would have to do.

It took awhile but the Q015 showed up followed a few minutes later by an eastbound auto rack train.

I began making my way back, pausing at the bridge over CSX because the “Davey Tree” intermediate signals were on. I heard a horn that I mistakenly thought belong to an eastbound because it appeared to be coming from Kent. But it wasn’t. It was a westbound manifest freight.

The intermediate signals at “Davey Tree” stayed on after the westbound had passed. Maybe there was an eastbound in the block. I better stay put.

Minutes later I heard the eastbound approaching. It was another auto rack train.

In a span of an hour and 15 minutes I had captured five trains on CSX, which isn’t too bad on the New Castle Sub where dry spells can last for hours.

Yet none of those trains had even a hint of foreign power. I can hear the voice of one of my favorite baseball announcers, the late Harry Carey, making the call. With a strong hint of disgust in his voice, Harry might say: He POPPED him up.

Back at Towner’s Wood Park a westbound NS coal train came through. It would be my last train of the day for I would soon be heading home. I had things to do that afternoon.

Maybe there would be a DPU. Maybe it would be a heritage unit. There was a DPU, the nose was facing eastward, but it was a routine NS locomotive, albeit a standard cab.  Let’s score it another single to left.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

The perfect profile of matching tank cars on a westbound NS tanker train pass through Brady Lake. Alas, there were no heritage units in the motive power consist.

The perfect profile of matching tank cars on a westbound NS tanker train pass through Brady Lake. Alas, there were no heritage units in the motive power consist.

A pile of used ties await disposition next to the former Erie mainline in Brady Lake. Will these end up becoming a retaining wall for someone’s garden?

A pile of used ties await disposition next to the former Erie mainline in Brady Lake. Will these end up becoming a retaining wall for someone’s garden?

The Q016 rounds the curve and heads for Ravenna after having just traversed Kent.

The Q016 rounds the curve and heads for Ravenna after having just traversed Kent.

Q015 makes an appearance next to the still snow-covered Portage Hike and Bike Trail.

Q015 makes an appearance next to the still snow-covered Portage Hike and Bike Trail.

A string of pumpkin-colored Schneider National containers brought up the rear of the Q015.

A string of pumpkin-colored Schneider National containers brought up the rear of the Q015.

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The first of a pair of auto rack trains that I would see. There is still a fair amount of snow — for now.

I had long wanted to get a photo of the lead unit of a westbound train between the two surviving ex-Erie bridges over the ex-B&O in Kent.

I had long wanted to get a photo of the lead unit of a westbound train between the two surviving ex-Erie bridges over the ex-B&O in Kent.

My last CSX train was another auto rack train making its way east. The Portage Hike and Bike Trail can be seen at left.

My last CSX train was another auto rack train making its way east. The Portage Hike and Bike Trail can be seen at left.

The last train of the day had a standard cab DPU unit bringing up the rear. Not a bad way to end an outing that had not quite achieved what I had hoped to get.

The last train of the day had a standard cab DPU unit bringing up the rear. Not a bad way to end an outing that had not quite achieved what I had hoped to get.


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